Born in Turkey in 1984, Los Angeles-based media artist, director and pioneer in the aesthetics of data and machine intelligence whose work locates creativity at the intersection of humans and machines and has been installed globally, including in Italy, France, Australia and throughout the States – and takes data that flows around us as the primary material and neural network of a computerized mind – Refik Anadol, TED Fellow and former Google artist-in-residence, plumbs his own psychological depths to discover what makes him love work and life.
What historical art figure would you like to have lunch with and why? DaVinci! I mean… just to ask fundamental questions.
What did you purchase with the proceeds from your first sale? I bought dinner for my family.
What words or phrases do you overuse? I use “dreams” and “hallucinations” a lot. And, machine.
How do you know when a work is finished? When it touches someone’s mind and soul and gets a response.
When and where were you happiest? I have so many! When I proposed to Efsun and the second one is… wow, so many! …from very personal to a very studio thing. But, I think the Disney Hall project, when it happened. That should be in the highlights. I mean, it was very emotional. When a building dreamed and when my dream came true. That’s a good combo.
What is your most treasured possession? I’m not a materialist person.
Where is your ideal escape destination? Hawaii
What’s the worst survival job you’ve ever had? I think I was in high school, I was cutting tickets for a film festival. But, the problem was the festival was so accurate on their timing, if someone is one minute late, we were not letting them in. I was the person saying to that person, “You are late, and you are not getting in.” So that was my most weird job ever, to make people unhappy. Two weeks of making people unhappy! It was hard.
What TV series from your youth best describes your approach to life? I watch all the cliches like Grey’s Anatomy to Dawson’s Creek to Nip/Tuck. Nip/Tuck! Nip/Tuck! That was a CRAZY one. It showed me that beauty is not something that you can make later. It’s not a physical thing. It’s from the inside. It’s from the soul. Material transformation of a human body or objectifying the human body is not a way of being beautiful and happy and successful in life, it’s something else. It’s the mind that has to be constructed, not the body, I think. That’s why. That’s pretty good to know from the T.V. series. It’s very horrible – seeing people with weird obsessions with their bodies, yet they were not going on to a happy stage in life.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Definitely social, I would like to be more social.
What is your most treasured memory? Many treasures. Whenever a dream becomes real, that is a treasured point, but there are many of them.
What makes you smile? I’m default smiling. What makes me the opposite is the question, I guess.
What makes you cry? Some movies. And, then, sometimes, some stories I’m hearing that are about poverty or inequality in life. There are certain stories that make me extremely unhappy.
What is your go-to drink when you toast to a sale? Hennessey Cognac!
After an all-nighter, what’s your breakfast of champions? Just coffee. Pure coffee.
Who inspires you? Nobel Prize winners.
What’s your best quality? I work a lot. I don’t quit.
What’s your biggest flaw? Maybe less work.
What is your current state of mind? Innovation.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Letting buildings dream and hallucinate.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be? A doctor. A very functional person useful for humanity, helping people to cure disease.
All images courtesy Refik Anadol Studio